Oh, how I miss the Orchestral Game Concerts. It's a shame that they no longer are held, as I very much enjoy hearing orchestral performances of good video game music. Fortunately, Capcom has come to the rescue with a very successful concert of their very own! With scored arrangements of some of the best music from the Resident Evil series (Bio Hazard as it is known in Japan), and the performance of New Japan Philharmonic, they have created a very memorable album.
I feel the need to reiterate that this is *not* the band BioHazard. Too many people have come up to me and asked that about this album. Rather, it is the recording of a concert which took place last year, where the orchestra performed music from the Resident Evil game series. The concert also served as a promotional venue for Capcom to advertise their new game, Resident Evil 3. Shirts were sold, along with other merchandise, and previews of RE3 were shown.
As for the orchestra... well, they were truly in top form for this outing. The concert opens with a beautiful pipe organ solo by Michiko Aotani, which segues into an arrangement of tracks from the original RE game. A very nice piece to be sure, although unrecognizable to me since I own the Director's Cut of RE and not the original. Ah well.
The real magic of this album becomes appearant in track 3 and beyond. All of the music performed from RE2 and 3 is very easily recognized, and quite awesome! It truly gives the feeling that you are listening to a movie score, and conjures back images from the game as if it were indeed a film and not a video game. This is the way that orchestral albums of game music should be made, with the musicians pouring their heart and soul into the performance. Special mention should be made here regarding track 6, "A Secure Place". I actually became a little irritated with this repetitive music while playing RE2, as it is the safe room music. It played everytime I entered the room and was always the same four bars repeated endlessly. However, in this concert the music is expanded upon, made longer and conjoined perfectly with another haunting piece from later in the game. It is genuinely creepy and beautiful at the same time, the piano being distant and mysterious and the strings really bringing out the quiet power of this music. Very effective!
The one curious track that I found in this album is the final track, "Special End Title". I am not sure at what point this music is played in any of the games, if indeed it is at all. Judging by the title, I would venture a guess that it is played when you complete one of the three games perfectly and recieve the best ending. It seems out of place on this album, which is otherwise filled with creepy, powerful and haunting music - until suddenly one is assaulted with loud electric guitars! It is quite jarring. Not to say it is a bad track... it is enjoyable in its own way, and symphonic rock with a full orchestra behind a rock band is very difficult to find and very welcome in my book. I will say that at times the orchestra has trouble keeping in sync with the rock band, although it doesn't really hurt the piece all that much.
All in all, although there are a few noticable flubs by the orchestra within the performances, this is a must-have album for any fan of the Resident Evil games. Best listened to in a dark room! And keep those doors locked friends, you never know about those zombies.